Coronavirus: Travelling in Lancashire as schools return in September

Since the lockdown began, students across the country have been prevented from going to school to help control the virus and save lives. The Government is committed to ensuring that all students can safely return to school and are working to make sure transport is not a barrier to people accessing the education they deserve.

There are many ways students can travel to school. In the first instance, we encourage all students to walk, cycle or scoot to school if they can and if they live a short distance (2 miles or less) from their school or further education college. This will help to reduce pressure on the public transport network for those who need it most. If students aren’t able to walk, cycle or scoot, they can use public transport or drive to get to their school or college.

You can find out what we are doing to support people travelling from September.

Information and advice on travelling at peak times from September

If you need to travel during peak times, whether it is for work, school or college, it's important to plan your journeys ahead of time and help minimise congestion when schools reopen.  Here is some information and advice to help you to be aware of the potential travel issues we may face in Lancashire.

Walk, cycle or scoot where you can

Public buses are carrying reduced passenger numbers due to social distancing measures, and everyone is being asked to try and avoid travelling on public buses at peak times, particularly if they could walk or cycling instead.

It is estimated that around half of pupils live within 2 miles of their school and, wherever possible, families are being asked to arrange for pupils to walk or cycle.

The current Switch to Cycling campaign is looking to build on an increase in people cycling during lockdown with lots of helpful information and advice for anyone thinking of cycling.

Minimising risk of transmission of COVID-19 when travelling to school

There is a lot of general advice on the government's coronavirus webpages about how to travel safely. 

However, there are a few things parents and pupils can think about when travelling to and from schools and colleges.

Public transport

If you and your child rely on public transport to get to their nursery, childminder, school or college, the government's safer travel guidance for passengers gives information about travelling safely and tips for journey planning.

If students are using public transport, they should continue to follow government guidelines to ensure they can travel safely on the network. They should plan their journey in advance and allow more time to get to their school or college.

Social distancing applies to children as well as adults. Children should keep their distance from people who are not in their household or support bubble, while on public transport and in enclosed or substantially enclosed public areas of transport hubs. If this isn’t possible children should:

  • avoid physical contact
  • face away from others
  • keep the time spent near others as short as possible

Parents and pupils are reminded that it is now the law that children and young people aged 11 and over must wear a face covering on public transport, and in transport hubs, such as bus and railway stations.

You can read more about social distancing and support bubbles on GOV.UK

There is also guidance available from:

If your child experiences problems getting to and from school by public transport, please discuss this with your school directly so that they can understand local issues and raise it with us as the Local Authority if appropriate.

You can also find out what we are doing to support people travelling from September.

Dedicated school transport

Dedicated school transport is safer for pupils as it minimises wider social contacts.

Pupils should carry sanitiser to clean their hands on boarding / exiting transport.

Schools have been advised to put in place safe boarding procedures and to consider seating and grouping arrangements on buses to minimise social contacts.

New advice from the Department for Education is that students aged 11 and over should also wear a face covering on dedicated school transport, other than those who are exempt. This reflects that '1 metre plus' social distancing measures will not uniformly apply on buses, and will help to minimise the risk of the virus spreading.

Find more information about travelling on school buses.

Car sharing

If parents or students are car-sharing with someone outside of their support bubble or family, they should share with the same people each time, open the windows for ventilation and wear a face covering if they are over 11 years old and are not exempt.

What we are doing to support people travelling from September

We've been working to ensure that transport arrangements are in place so that all pupils who have been granted home to school transport can return to school at the beginning of term. Our highways and transport teams will be closely monitoring the situation on the roads in order to respond as quickly as possible to any local issues.

We are working with transport operators to put on extra dedicated school bus services. In some areas these will duplicate existing dedicated school buses to help social distancing where these services are usually very busy. However on some routes where a lot of pupils usually rely on public buses, new dedicated school services are being operated to add to capacity and try to ensure there are enough seats for everyone.

It is difficult to predict how people may have changed their travel habits due to the pandemic, however our transport team will be working closely with operators to monitor the situation and provide extra services where it is clear that extra capacity is needed.  We have also been working with schools to survey parents on their typical routes to school to identify any required alternatives.

We are also working with bus companies which provide specific school services to put measures in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus which include managing queues, maximising ventilation, and ensuring vehicles are sanitised.

This is a national issue, which is why the government has given councils funding for measures to make cycling easier.  Our Active Travel information outlines some of the things we are doing to make it easier for people to walk and cycle in busy areas whilst maintaining social distancing.